By: Mayen Etim
KADUNA, North-West, Nigeria – A group, under the auspice of Interfaith Mediation Centre, (IMC), Kaduna on Monday charged Journalists not to heat up conflicts through their reportage.
Co-Executive Director of IMC, Pastor James Wujeb, gave the charge at a forum with media on Peace Journalism organized by the group in Kaduna.
He appealed to the media to always operate outside it orbit in order to see things objectively with sincerity of purpose.
According to him, the media needs to operate outside its orbit and not stay inside and compile reports of events especially conflicts otherwise the reporter’s feelings and backgrounds could influenced what he says and how he says it.
Speaking on the 5-year project IMC is executing, Wujeb, informed that the project tagged: Community Initiative to Promote Peace, (CIPP) is supported by USAID, and would be running in six states, namely; Benue, Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, Kogi and Plateau.
He disclosed further that the project is already running actively in three states while the other three will come in other phases.
Wujeb, also said that one of the initiatives in the project is to track early warnings and early response, saying there were certain warnings that will come from the media since it has an ear to the ground.
“Secondly, IMC, also has a structure on ground called Community Peace Observers, (CPOs), where recruited young boys/girls, men/women and leaders of different categories living in our communities are supposed to listen to what is being said, watch what is being done and report to a structure called Conflict Mitigation and Management Regional Council, (CMMRC).”
Explaining further, Wujeb, said CMMRC is made up of carefully selected credible individuals, representatives of different organizations within IMC’s mapping who could come together when they hear those early warnings and try to mitigate before it escalates.
He added that even when challenges has escalated, it is expected that the council would have a way of mitigating it, using the media, although it could mitigate physically, but it need to send out information to reduce the expansion or aggravation of the challenge on ground using the media.
“That’s why the media is called upon to help IMC in this onerous task. The activities that CMMRC tracks also tend to address some of the things Journalists present here disclosed to have passion for.
“We have the system to track these things within CMMRC in our conflict structure called Community Peace Action Network. There is an App where we feed information, so if the mission has to do with gender violence we’re able to know from the information reaching us either it has escalated or deescalated.
“Those that has to do with ecological challenges that is escalating and graduating into crop farmers/livestock farmers today, desert encroachment that has led to no more fodder for the cows, political issues, ethno-religious issues, security issues, and other social vices that are not clearly spelt out and could cause challenges like hate speeches, IMC tracks them and we hope that as these information are shared the media will assist, particularly with objective reportage.
“In all these, the media should carry out its functions with the principle of do no harm. This is what IMC wants to promote in this project that whatever you do even if it’s food and that food is your right and could cause someone to misunderstand your intentions and cause him to kill or fight, please avoid the food for that moment so that it does not cause the pains.
“We want the media to be a mitigant in its reportage, and these should have a reconciliatory tendency,” he appealed.
In her presentation, Fatima Buhari, who described Peace Journalism as that which offers a more balanced perspective of war and conflict than that provided by the dominant mainstream media, appealed to Journalists not to wait for conflict to happen before taking action.